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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 234-253
 Header Item Early Childhood Care and Education Data
 Header Item Child Care Services Administration
 Header Item Community Development Initiatives
 Header Item Town and Village Renewal Scheme
 Header Item Local Improvement Scheme Administration
 Header Item Carer's Benefit Applications
 Header Item Community Services Programme
 Header Item Registration of Births
 Header Item Invalidity Pension Appeals
 Header Item Maternity Leave
 Header Item State Pension (Contributory) Eligibility
 Header Item Fuel Allowance Eligibility
 Header Item Social Welfare Benefits Eligibility
 Header Item Jobseeker's Allowance Eligibility
 Header Item Jobseeker's Allowance Eligibility
 Header Item Carer's Allowance Appeals
 Header Item Exceptional Needs Payment Eligibility
 Header Item State Pension (Contributory) Eligibility
 Header Item Redundancy Payments

Thursday, 19 October 2017

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 960 No. 6

First Page Previous Page Page of 70 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 234-253

Early Childhood Care and Education Data

 234. Deputy Anne Rabbitte Information on Anne Rabbitte Zoom on Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone the number of children enrolled in the ECCE programme in each of the years 2015 to 2017. [44516/17]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone As the Deputy will be aware, ECCE runs on a programme year from Sept to August. I have provided the relevant information on that basis in the table.

Programme Year: Number of Registrations:
2014/15 66,762
2015/16 73,964
2016/17 120,601

Child Care Services Administration

 235. Deputy Pat Casey Information on Pat Casey Zoom on Pat Casey asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone the communication procedures for the opening and closing of crèches, child care and Montessori facilities in extreme weather situations whereby schools were closed by Government announcement but no information was provided regarding child care facilities; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44532/17]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone Information and advice was provided to childcare providers both on Sunday 15th and Monday 16th October. On Sunday the 15th of October at 19.41, an announcement regarding the closure of childcare facilities was released on the PIP Portal. The PIP Portal is an IT system that enables communication with all 4500 services funded by DCYA. Operated by Pobal, DCYAs funding and administration intermediary, PIP is used for all important communications with childcare service providers. This announcement was based on the advice of the National Emergency Coordination Committee. It advised that childcare providers should make safety their priority and that the Department would continue to fund Government schemes despite closure on Monday 16th.

A press release was also issued and shared with key stakeholders who could further share on social media and other platforms This information was also included in the statement released from the National Emergency Coordination Group on Severe Weather on Sunday the 15th of October. The relevant section from this statement is as follows (bold added);

"Because of the duty of care owed to children and to avoid the risk arising from travelling, the Department of Education and Skills is instructing all schools to act on the Department‘s advice and remain closed. Crèches and Montessori facilities should also remain closed tomorrow."

This statement was widely discussed and publicised across all news media platforms and social media networks. On Monday 16 Oct, DCYA released a further statement on the PIP Portal and through the media advising all service again that the safety of children, staff and parents should be the primary consideration and, for services which could not reopen, funding would not be affected for Government schemes on Tuesday 17th of October.

Further communications took place with various organisations including City and County Childcare Committees and these were shared on social media.

Community Development Initiatives

 236. Deputy Tom Neville Information on Tom Neville Zoom on Tom Neville asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development Information on Michael Ring Zoom on Michael Ring if his Department provides funding for community groups to develop town and village plans. [44308/17]

Minister for Rural and Community Development (Deputy Michael Ring): Information on Michael Ring Zoom on Michael Ring The development of town and village plans are eligible for support under the Town and Village Renewal Scheme which is operated by my Department and administered through the Local Authorities. Local Authorities are required to develop proposals under the scheme in consultation with local communities.

  I recently approved funding of €21.6 million to 281 rural towns and villages under the 2017 Town and Village Renewal Scheme for projects that focus on improving the economic development of those towns and villages. A number of these projects included funding for the development of Town Health Checks and Town Plans. The Town and Village Renewal Scheme is now closed for 2017.

  Earlier this year, the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation launched a Framework for Town Centre Renewal, which is a useful support document for towns and villages seeking to develop plans to rejuvenate their centres.

  Assistance may also be available for feasibility studies under the LEADER Programme for this type of initiative, subject to certain conditions. The Local Action Groups which administer the LEADER programme would be in a position to provide further details.

  In addition, the Heritage Council, an agency under the aegis of the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, operates a Community-led Village Design Statement programme, details of which are available at http://www.heritagecouncil.ie/projects/community-led-village-design-statements.

Town and Village Renewal Scheme

 237. Deputy Niall Collins Information on Niall Collins Zoom on Niall Collins asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development Information on Michael Ring Zoom on Michael Ring the number of applications received from County Limerick for the town and village renewal scheme; the number of persons who received grant aid and who did not receive grant aid, respectively; and the appeals process in place. [44457/17]

Minister for Rural and Community Development (Deputy Michael Ring): Information on Michael Ring Zoom on Michael Ring The 2017 Town and Village Renewal Scheme was launched on 13th April last, with a focus on improving the economic development of our rural towns and villages.

  Each Local Authority was invited to submit up to 15 applications to the Department for consideration under the scheme, following consultation with local communities in their respective areas.

  I recently approved funding of €21.6 million to 281 towns and villages throughout the country under the Town and Village Renewal scheme.

  Limerick County Council submitted 15 applications to the Department for consideration and, of these, 13 applications were approved for funding to a total value of €1,087,943. The remaining 2 applications were not successful on this occasion as they did not satisfy the qualifying criteria for funding. The qualifying criteria were set out in the scheme details issued to Local Authorities in April.

  While there is no formal appeals process in place in the situation where the criteria have not been met, my officials are available to give feedback to Local Authorities on the assessment process.

Local Improvement Scheme Administration

 238. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív Information on Éamon Ó Cuív Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development Information on Michael Ring Zoom on Michael Ring the reason it is his plan to pre-pay local authorities for work on LIS roads, as per Parliamentary Question No. 163 of 12 October 2017; if the approval of the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform has been given for this decision; his views on whether local authorities may not live up to commitments they may give regarding the completion of works, particularly in view of the fact that a considerable amount of the funding given to local authorities in December has not yet been spent or accounted for; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44459/17]

Minister for Rural and Community Development (Deputy Michael Ring): Information on Michael Ring Zoom on Michael Ring In the past, Local Improvement Schemes were mainly run towards the end of the year when the main public roads programmes were winding down. The LIS roads were completed through a concentrated effort over a relatively short period of time.

In September of this year, I re-launched the Local Improvement Scheme, with an allocation of €10 million for 2017. Funding was allocated to Local Authorities on the basis of listings of projects which they had indicated could be completed by the end of the year. The amount requested by Local Authorities greatly exceeded the budget available for the scheme this year and it is a matter for the Local Authorities to prioritise the specific roads on which works will be carried out before the end of the year within the allocation assigned to them.

Payments will be made to Local Authorities only when they have certified that at least 50% of the works had been completed and that the works will be fully completed before the end of the year. The payment arrangements take account of the fact that Local Authorities would not have been in a positon to factor the scheme in to their cash-flow requirements at the start of the year.

All expenditure by my Department to date has been fully sanctioned by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and all future payments will similarly require sanction and will be in line with public financial procedures.

Expenditure under all of my Department's rural support schemes is being monitored on an on-going basis and inspections of both projects and associated administrative files will be carried out as necessary to verify satisfactory completion of the LIS and other schemes.

Carer's Benefit Applications

 239. Deputy Tom Neville Information on Tom Neville Zoom on Tom Neville asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty the status of a carer's benefit application by a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44366/17]

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty I confirm that my department received an application for carer’s benefit from the person concerned on 14 September 2017. The application is currently being processed and once completed, the person concerned will be notified directly of the outcome.

  I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Community Services Programme

 240. Deputy Willie Penrose Information on Willie Penrose Zoom on Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty her views on the recent decision by the community sports and services directorate of Pobal to discontinue funding for mid-Ireland tourism which promotes tourism in the midland region (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44442/17]

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty As the Deputy is aware, the Community Services Programme (CSP) provides financial support to community companies that provide revenue generating services of a social inclusion nature. The CSP works on a social-enterprise model which means that it does not fully fund contract holders but requires that they generate revenue by charging fees or raising funds. All CSP recipients are obliged to meet these criteria. These social enterprises also remain responsible for their own budgets and financial liabilities.

  The organisation referred to by the Deputy received funding under the CSP for one manager and two full-time equivalent (FTE) posts. This equates to funding in the order of €70,000 per annum.

  The organisation submitted their business plan in 2016, as part of the normal re-contracting process. During this process, it was found that the service did not meet the required standards in terms of strategic fit, value for money and the demonstration of the continued need for the service.

  Overall, the review found that the service:

  - is primarily meeting the needs of a membership base, the majority of which are private businesses. This is not a priority for continued funding under the CSP which is focused on groups that provide services to specific disadvantaged groups, rather than private businesses;

  - has low levels of foot-fall and opening hours when compared to other tourism operations supported by the CSP. Given the service primarily benefits private business, rather that CSP target groups, the funding provided to the organisation does not represent value for money under the Programme; and

  - has not adequately and clearly articulated what the key needs of their clients are and how they propose to meet them, particularly in terms of the target groups of the CSP.

  As a result of these findings, the service was recommended to exit the CSP on 30 June 2017.

  This decision was appealed to Pobal on 29 November 2016. An independent review was carried out which upheld the original decision. This was communicated to the organisation on 20 December 2016.

  Discussions were held between Pobal and the organisation in January 2017, outlining options for alternative funding post programme exit in June 2017.

  In February 2017 the organisation requested an extension to their contract until 30 September 2017 to allow them to complete their summer schedule and a timely wind-up of operations. This extension was facilitated and approved by my Department and an addendum to their contract was issued on 21 February 2017.

  This organisation has now exhausted the appeals process for the CSP. For the reasons outlined above, I would now urge them to explore other sources of funding, outside of the CSP, in order to continue operating.

  I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Registration of Births

 241. Deputy Peadar Tóibín Information on Peadar Tóibín Zoom on Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty her plans to allow mothers that have lost their sons or daughters before 24 weeks' gestation to have their children's names registered on the stillbirth register (details supplied).  [44467/17]

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty The registration of stillbirths was first provided for in the Stillbirths Registration Act 1994. The definition of a stillbirth contained in that Act was carried forward to the Civil Registration Act 2004. The registration of stillbirths is provided for in section 28 of the 2004 Act.

When the 1994 Act was introduced it was primarily to afford comfort to the bereaved parents. For this reason it was felt that the definition of a stillbirth should be as wide as possible, consistent with accepted medical norms.

During the passage of the 1994 Act detailed consideration was given, by the Oireachtas, as to what the most appropriate definition of a stillbirth should be. It was decided to use the broadest definition available to allow as many registrations as possible. The definition that was agreed on is based on the international medical meaning of the term ‘stillborn child’ The definition of a “stillborn child” is contained in section 2(1) of the 2004 Act and provides that a stillborn child “means a child who, at birth, weighs not less than 500 grammes or has a gestational age of not less than 24 weeks and shows no sign of life”.

The definition of ‘stillborn’ varies from country to country. Some countries use gestational age only, while others use weight, or a combination of both. In Ireland, in order to broaden the definition, either criterion can be used.

For international comparison purposes the World Health Organisation recommends that a stillbirth be defined as a baby born with no signs of life at or after 28 weeks' gestation.

It should be noted that stillbirths which occurred prior to the enactment of the 1994 Act may be registered, providing the stillborn child fulfils the criteria as set out in section 2(1) of the 2004 Act.

While acknowledging that the loss of an unborn child is very sad for the family concerned there are no plans to amend the legislation as the definition of a stillbirth contained in the 2004 Act is consistent with accepted medical norms.

Invalidity Pension Appeals

 242. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty the progress to date in the determination of an appeal for invalidity pension in the case a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44407/17]

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 5 September 2017 and form SWAO1 requesting grounds of appeal was issued. The grounds of appeal were returned and in accordance with the statutory requirements of the appeals process the relevant Departmental papers and comments by the Deciding Officer on the grounds of appeal have been sought. When these papers are received from the Department, the case in question will be referred to an Appeals Officer who will make a summary decision on the appeal based on the documentary evidence presented or, if required, hold an oral appeal hearing.

The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister for Social Protection and of the Department and is responsible for determining appeals against decisions in relation to social welfare entitlements.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Maternity Leave

 243. Deputy Paul Murphy Information on Paul Murphy Zoom on Paul Murphy asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty if the extension of maternity leave for premature births will only apply to those births after 1 October 2017; her plans for an extension of the rights to those already on maternity leave; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44415/17]

 245. Deputy Catherine Martin Information on Catherine Martin Zoom on Catherine Martin asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty her plans to extend the maternity leave and benefit for mothers of premature babies who are currently on maternity leave but whose children were born before 1 October 2017. [44425/17]

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty I propose to take Questions Nos. 243 and 245 together.

On 3 October 2017 I, together with my colleague the Minister for Justice and Equality, Charlie Flanagan T.D., announced increased maternity leave and maternity benefit for mothers whose babies are born prematurely.

Under the new arrangements, in addition to the current 26 weeks of paid maternity leave a mother will be entitled to an additional period of maternity leave and benefit where her baby is born prematurely, where she meets the ordinary qualifying criteria for the schemes. The additional period will commence at the end of the standard 26 week period of paid maternity leave. The extended period to be added will be the number of weeks from the baby's actual date of birth up to two weeks before the expected date of confinement which would have been the 37th week of the pregnancy, at which point the current entitlement to 26 weeks leave and benefit would normally begin.

The Government decided that the additional maternity leave and benefit would be available for mothers of premature babies born on or after 1 October 2017 and my Department is now working to make sure the necessary arrangements are put in place to meet that deadline. There are no plans to extend the new arrangements to mothers of premature babies born before that date.

State Pension (Contributory) Eligibility

 244. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty further to Parliamentary Question No. 714 of 29 September 2017, if the matter could now be further investigated in view of the applicability of the common travel area and particularly having regard to the fact that the persons could not have remarried without presenting a copy of the decree absolute in a person's (details supplied) first marriage; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44424/17]

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty In order to qualify for a widow(er)’s or surviving civil partner’s (contributory) pension, the surviving spouse must be deemed, under Irish State Law, to be the legal widower of the deceased. The person concerned was previously married in Ireland and subsequently divorced in Northern Ireland. Where a divorce has been granted in another jurisdiction, including Northern Ireland, legal recognition of this divorce under Irish law is examined. The common travel area that exists between Ireland and United Kingdom has no bearing on the recognition of a divorce outside the jurisdiction of the State.

Legal recognition of foreign divorce in Ireland is a complex area of law involving proof of domicile in a country where the divorce has been granted. The provisions pertaining to the recognition of divorce outside the State are set out in Section 5 of the Domicile and Recognition of Foreign Divorces Act, 1986.

The person concerned has been afforded the opportunity to provide evidence that would demonstrate that either party to the first marriage was domiciled in Northern Ireland, at the time divorce proceedings were initiated. As no response has been received from the person concerned, a decision will now be made based on the information available. The person concerned will be notified of the deciding officer’s decision in writing.

If the person concerned is not satisfied with the decision of the deciding officer, they may appeal the decision to the independent Chief Appeals Officer, Social Welfare Appeals Office, D’Olier House, D’Olier St., Dublin 2.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Question No. 245 answered with Question No. 243.

Fuel Allowance Eligibility

 246. Deputy Willie Penrose Information on Willie Penrose Zoom on Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty if her attention has been drawn to the fact that a person (details supplied) who was deemed to be in receipt of jobseeker's allowance for less than 391 days and who was assessed as ineligible for the purposes of determining eligibility for fuel allowance was previously on enterprise allowance for a considerable period of time before returning to jobseeker's allowance; if this can be reviewed in totality in terms of their eligibility for the 391 day period; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44436/17]

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty The application for fuel allowance of the person concerned has been reviewed on 18 October 2017. It has now been determined that the applicant is residing with a qualified person.

  As fuel allowance is a means-tested payment, the applicant has been requested to complete and return a means assessment form, with supporting documentation. On receipt, a decision will be made on the person’s eligibility for fuel allowance and the applicant will be notified of that decision in writing without delay.

  I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.   

Social Welfare Benefits Eligibility

 247. Deputy Willie Penrose Information on Willie Penrose Zoom on Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty if a person (details supplied) would be entitled to a State pension, either contributory or non-contributory, or a widow's pension; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44437/17]

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty In order to have a person’s entitlement to state pension (contributory) or widow(er)’s or surviving civil partner’s (contributory) pension examined, a completed application form must be submitted to my Department. Both pension application forms have been posted to the person concerned. Application forms are also available to download from the Department’s website www.welfare.ie.

Once the completed application forms are received, entitlement will be examined and the person concerned will be notified of the outcome without delay. The highest rate of pension entitlement will be awarded.

One of the eligibility conditions for state pension (non-contributory), which is a means tested payment, is the applicant must be living in the State. An application form for this pension type has not been issued, as the person concerned is currently resident in the USA.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Jobseeker's Allowance Eligibility

 248. Deputy Willie Penrose Information on Willie Penrose Zoom on Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty the assessment procedure for jobseeker's allowance in terms of capital savings which a person can have in a financial institution either in their own name or held in a person's own name or jointly with their spouse in terms of their eligibility for jobseeker's allowance; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44438/17]

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty In assessing means for social assistance payments including jobseeker’s allowance, account is taken of the value of capital and property belonging to the person and their spouse or partner. Capital includes moneys on hands or deposited in financial institutions while property includes the value of other assets such as bonds and equities as well as houses and other premises. Property such as the family home or a premises used by a person in carrying out a business is not liable for assessment.

  The capital assessment method for jobseeker’s allowance and most social assistance schemes (such as farm assist, one parent family payment and the state pension non-contributory) involves disregarding an initial amount of capital/savings and applying an increasing notional weekly value for amounts in excess of the disregarded amount, as outlined in the table. The same assessment of capital applies to capital/savings in the name of the claimant and his or her spouse/partner.

  Table: Social Welfare Capital Means Assessment (excluding Supplementary Welfare Allowance and Disability Allowance)

AMOUNT OF CAPITAL WEEKLY MEANS ASSESSED
Up to €20,000 Nil
€20,000 - €30,000 €1 per each €1,000
€30,000 - €40,000 €2 per each €1,000
Over €40,000 €4 per each €1,000


  The weekly entitlement of the claimant is the maximum weekly rate of payment for the person less the means calculated. For a couple with no dependent children, the current rate of jobseeker’s allowance (JA) is €321.10 per week (i.e. €193 per week personal rate and €128.10 increase for a qualified adult). For each dependent child, the rate payable increases by €29.80 per week. The amount of JA payable is the rate of JA for the relevant family (i.e. personal rate, increase for a qualified adult, if relevant, and any increases for qualified children) minus the means available to the couple.

  This means that a couple on JA can have €20,000 in savings and be assessed with nil means from capital and receive the maximum weekly rate of JA, while a couple with savings of €30,000 would be assessed with €10 of capital means. A couple with savings of €100,000 and no other means would be assessed with weekly means of €270 and still receive a payment of €51.10 per week. In this regard, a couple with no dependent children can have savings in excess of €110,000 and still receive a minimal payment of JA.

  I was pleased to announce on Budget Day last week that there will be a €5 increase in the weekly personal rates of payment, with proportionate increases for qualified adults from the last week of March 2018. In this regard, the weekly personal rate of JA will increase to €198 per week and the increase for qualified adults will increase to €131.40 per week. In addition, the increase for qualified children will also rise by €2 to €31.80 per child per week from the end of March.

Jobseeker's Allowance Eligibility

 249. Deputy Willie Penrose Information on Willie Penrose Zoom on Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty the position that pertains in respect of a person, who has to compulsorily retire at the age of 65 years and receives jobseeker's benefit for nine months, with regard to the remaining three months in terms of an application for jobseeker's allowance whereby that person would have received a lump sum payment upon retirement; the way this is assessed in terms of eligibility for jobseeker's allowance; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44439/17]

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty There is no statutory retirement age in the State, and the age at which employees retire is a matter for the contract of employment between them and their employers.

The Social Welfare and Pensions Act 2011 provides that State pension age will be increased gradually to 68 years. This began in January 2014 with the standardising of State pension age for all at 66 years and the cessation of State pension transition. The State pension age will increase to 67 years in 2021 and to 68 years in 2028.

Where a person exits the workforce before reaching State pension age they may apply for either the jobseeker’s benefit or jobseeker’s allowance schemes. Jobseeker’s payments are paid to eligible jobseekers aged 18 to 66 years and all recipients of a jobseeker’s payment are subject to the rules of the scheme.

Once a person has exhausted their entitlement to jobseeker’s benefit they may be eligible for jobseeker’s allowance, subject to the means test and other qualifying conditions. However, in the case as described above where someone claims jobseeker’s benefit payment after their 65th birthday, they would continue to be eligible for that payment until reaching State pension age which is currently 66 years of age and therefore, they would not need to make a claim for jobseeker’s allowance.

Carer's Allowance Appeals

 250. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty when an appeal will be determined in the case of a person (details supplied) regarding refusal of a carer's allowance; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44494/17]

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 8 August 2017. It is a statutory requirement of the appeals process that the relevant Departmental papers and comments by the Deciding Officer on the grounds of appeal be sought. When these papers have been received from the Department, the case in question will be referred to an Appeals Officer who will make a summary decision on the appeal based on the documentary evidence presented or, if required, hold an oral appeal hearing.

The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection and of the Department and is responsible for determining appeals against decisions in relation to social welfare entitlements.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Exceptional Needs Payment Eligibility

 251. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty if exceptional needs payment will be made in the case of a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44495/17]

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty No application for an Exceptional Needs Payment (ENP) has been received from the person concerned. An application form for Supplementary Welfare Allowance, together with a request for supporting documentation and the contact details of the department’s Community Welfare Service has been sent to the person concerned. Once a completed application for Supplementary Welfare Allowance has been received it will processed as quickly as possible.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

State Pension (Contributory) Eligibility

 252. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty if in the case of a person's (details supplied) application for a State pension, an effort was made to allow contributory credits for the period they were employed by employers who did not record contributions; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44496/17]

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty The person concerned is in receipt of a reduced rate state pension (contributory) based on an assessed yearly average of 19 contributions, covering the period July 1962 to December 2010.

  According to the records of my Department, the person concerned has no recorded contributions during the period 1967 to 1997. The person concerned has been requested on a number of occasions to provide details or evidence of any insurable employment(s) during this period.

  On receipt of insurable employment details, their pension entitlement will be reviewed and the person concerned notified of the outcome without delay.

  I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.   

Redundancy Payments

 253. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty the way in which it is expected that a person (details supplied), previously a director of their company whose business has been wound up, is deemed to have an ability to meet a payment of €8,827.83 arising from redundancy and insolvent payment schemes in view of the fact that their only income is a State pension; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44497/17]

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty It is the employer’s responsibility to pay statutory redundancy and other wage related entitlements to all eligible employees. In the event that an employer is unable to pay these entitlements due to financial difficulties, the Department can step in to make a payment from the Social Insurance Fund, as part of the redundancy and insolvency payments schemes.

When a payment is made from the Social Insurance Fund, a debt is immediately raised against the employer. The Department is obliged to make every effort to recover the debt owed to the Social Insurance Fund, in line with its debt management policy.

In cases where the employer is a company which has become insolvent, the recovery of debt is pursued as part of the liquidation process, where the Department is a preferential creditor. Where the employer is a sole trader or partnership, the Department engages directly with the person concerned to ascertain their current financial situation and their capacity to repay the debt. Where appropriate, an agreed repayment plan can be put in place to minimise financial hardship; for example, the debt can be recovered by way of instalments over a period of time.

I would strongly urge the person in question to engage with the Department to discuss their financial situation. They can contact the Department on (01) 673 4549 or at debtmanagement@welfare.ie .

I hope that this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.


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